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02 August 2011 @ 04:00 pm
Reflections on Rich Horton's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011, part 1  
I'm going to go through and read all the stories in this collection and share my thoughts on them here.  (Probably excluding my own story.)  I read a lot of short stories, most of them speculative, but I don't often write about them in public.  So this is a bit awkward and uncomfortable for me, a bit like public speaking.  But sometimes when you're up there shaking you just get caught up in what you're doing and soar above the nervousness.

Here goes:

The opening story is "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" by Yoon Ha Lee.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before in this space, but I've liked several of Yoon Ha Lee's stories a lot.  This story is no exception.  It's a kind of science fiction that I've been seeing a lot more of recently, and that I really enjoy--there's never a moment when the story grinds to a halt to explain the mechanics of some futuristic engine, there's not a lot of jargon.  Rather, the story feels like postmodern mythology, clean and compelling and evocative of strange new possibilities.  The central element of the story is a series of four fantastic guns (the names of which compose the title).  A world-weary assassin living near the end of the universe wields one of the guns, Flower, which kills not only the target but all of the target's ancestors.  In a few short pages, the story conjures an interesting world, the lovely dark poetry of the guns, and some meaty ethical questions.  I would highly recommend it, especially for people who share my tastes for less sciencey science fiction.

The second story is "Amor Vincit Omnia" by K.J. Parker.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, after reading it I thought, "That was a well-written story, a well-constructed world with some a cool magical systems and some clever, well-drawn conflict scenes and some interesting points about politics and violence, but it felt a little heartless.  It didn't feel like what happened actually mattered to the characters as people, or that the main character really changed at all."  And another part of me thinks, "Yes, but the point of the story is the political ideas in it, which you're still thinking about."  That's true; I am still thinking about the story, which is one way of gauging the quality of a piece.  I still think, though, as clearly good as the story is it lacks some quality that makes me light up inside, which is what I want from each story if I were editing a Year's Best Anthology myself.  It's still very much worth reading, though.  And one part of what I'm still chewing on is the title, which is Latin for "Love Conquers All".  What does it mean for the story to be titled that, when there is apparently no love in the story at all, except perhaps the cold love of a loyal servant for the bureaucracy he serves?
selfavowedgeekselfavowedgeek on August 2nd, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
There's definitely something lyrically appealing to me in Lee's work.
Willow Faganwillowfagan on August 8th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
To me too! Do you have any particular favorites?